Alyn Smith MEP will announce at Scotsheep on 6th June the launch of a survey of all farmers in Shetland to gather real statistics and data on the impact that the regulation on the electronic tagging (EID) of sheep has had in Scotland. Alyn's survey will by way of background also explain the timeline of EID and how it came to pass at all, the success the SNP government has had in making the EU Regulations workable and work ongoing to further reform the package.
This survey will gather evidence on how EID has affected sheep numbers in Shetland as a microcosm for the impact across Scotland but within a clearly defined and distinct area. This evidence will be presented to European Commission officials in July in order to continue the pressure for a derogation which would allow double tagging homebred ewes electronically only when they leave the farm.
Alyn is seeking information on the rates of destocking among Shetland's farmers, why they are destocking and what would help stem this tide. Each farmer in Shetland will receive a copy of the survey through the post in the coming weeks. Survey responses will be treated confidentially and, after collation into one statistical document, will be destroyed.
"I promised to leave no stone unturned in fighting EID and I've kept my promise. Much of this work has been behind the scenes but there has been plenty of it. "The Commission exists to enforce the rules agreed by Member states and our Member State signed up to this, so we have been on the back foot from day one. However, I was delighted that the European Commissioner has been so open to a review of the package, but this must be based on facts and statistics. This survey will gather real facts, and will strengthen our case.
"The Commission claims, rightly, that there is little they can do without the nod from Member States, but there do remain some steps that could be taken which would make things much easier for our farmers without compromising our food safety and traceability either. Allowing homebred ewes to be managed on farm with a single flock ID and then only double tagging electronically when leaving the farm would significantly reduce compliance problems, ear tag retention and ear damage problems while not reducing traceability in any meaningful way.
"Any pressure that can be brought to bear on the Commission will help our case, whether it is now or in two years when the whole regulation is open for review. With the support of the Scottish Government, our sheep farmers are doing their best to make this work but there is only so much that can be done to make a bad regulation better. "However, I have no intention of giving up the fight now, or any time soon. We must, and we will make this workable for our farmers."